You can’t go far in a bookstore these days without seeing a title with “hygge” in it.
Hygge (pronounced “hoo-gah”) is the Danish word for “inner warmth” or “coziness,” and it’s a concept that forms the backbone of this notoriously happy society.
In recent months, dozens of books have been published on hygge, but it’s an idea I’ve been familiar with for several years thanks to my friend, Nils Juul-Hansen, a Dane who has called Austin home since 2001.
Juul-Hansen can’t not talk about hygge, in part, because it’s everywhere in Austin. He says that even his Copenhagen-based mother has commented on our openheartedness and willingness to be authentic with one another. He finds it on his daily trips to Barton Springs or the new library downtown. That’s where we met recently to record an interview for our Austin360 podcast, “ I Love You So Much,” that comes out today. ( Click here to listen to the episode, which also features an interview with “Steal Like An Artist” author Austin Kleon.)
We talked about why this kind of connection matters and how you can really foster it during the Christmas season. He suggested turning off the TV and putting away the phone to do something that requires you to be present with someone else. If the weather’s nice, that might mean a walk on the boardwalk, a dip in Barton Springs or a drive out in the Hill Country. When winter settles in, you might be turning inward with a warm up of cocoa, a night of board games or a hot bath.
Juul-Hansen is emphatic that Austin is the most hygge-filled city he’s been to in the U.S. Here’s what hygge looks like according to the hashtag # americanhygge.
Where are the best places in Austin to find this kind of hyggelig interaction? The top spots that come to my mind: under the Zilker Tree, on the Pfluger pedestrian bridge or wandering the aisles of Whole Foods or H-E-B. I’d love to hear your suggestions in the comments or through the hashtag.